torture

noun
tor·​ture | \ ˈtȯr-chər How to pronounce torture (audio) \

Definition of torture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure
2a : something that causes agony or pain
b : anguish of body or mind : agony
3 : distortion or overrefinement of a meaning or an argument : straining

torture

verb
tortured; torturing\ ˈtȯrch-​riŋ How to pronounce torture (audio) , ˈtȯr-​chə-​ \

Definition of torture (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cause intense suffering to : torment
2 : to punish or coerce by inflicting excruciating pain
3 : to twist or wrench out of shape : distort, warp

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Other Words from torture

Verb

torturer \ ˈtȯr-​chər-​ər How to pronounce torture (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for torture

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for torture

Verb

afflict, try, torment, torture, rack mean to inflict on a person something that is hard to bear. afflict is a general term and applies to the causing of pain or suffering or of acute annoyance, embarrassment, or any distress. ills that afflict the elderly try suggests imposing something that strains the powers of endurance or of self-control. children often try their parents' patience torment suggests persecution or the repeated inflicting of suffering or annoyance. a horse tormented by flies torture adds the implication of causing unbearable pain or suffering. tortured by a sense of guilt rack stresses straining or wrenching. a body racked by pain

Examples of torture in a Sentence

Noun Waiting is just torture for me. Listening to him can be torture. Verb The report revealed that prisoners had been repeatedly tortured. Don't torture yourself over the mistake.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Braving bullets and potential torture if they are captured, Myanmar's reporters are continuing to expose alleged atrocities by the junta against its own people. Helen Regan, Rebecca Wright And Paula Hancocks, CNN, "They are hunted and in hiding but Myanmar's journalists continue to report the truth," 3 May 2021 There's also political intrigue, blackmail, and weird torture brainwashing stuff. Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, "Shows Like Who Killed Sara?: What to Watch While You Wait for Season 2," 30 Apr. 2021 It's thought to be the only place in the world that uses electric shocks to modify behavior — a treatment the United Nations has called torture. NBC News, "A decades-long fight over an electric shock treatment led to an FDA ban. But the fight is far from over.," 28 Apr. 2021 In a phone interview, French political scientist and Chad expert Marielle Debos said Mr. Déby’s government was repressive but far less ruthless than that of Habré, who was later accused of systematic torture and killing up to 40,000 people. Washington Post, "Idriss Déby, repressive president who ruled Chad for 30 years, dies at 68," 20 Apr. 2021 The remaining inmates include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, whose trial on capital charges has been repeatedly postponed in disputes over evidence allegedly obtained through torture. Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, "Senate Democrats, including Feinstein and Padilla, call on Biden to close Guantanamo Bay prison," 19 Apr. 2021 Without motivation, the intervals become pointless torture. David Shultz, Outside Online, "Is This App the Future of AI Workouts?," 13 Apr. 2021 The sources of Hemingway’s torture were many; mental illness ran in the family, as did suicide. Kyle Smith, National Review, "The Many Paradoxes of Ernest Hemingway," 10 Apr. 2021 Sitting in a barrel chest-high in ice cubes seems more like torture than a birthday treat. Betsy Morris, WSJ, "An Extreme Method for Stress Management Pushes for the Mainstream," 22 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Director Emerald Fennell's powerful revenge drama about a woman's (Carey Mulligan) quest to torture toxic men mostly features white women both onscreen and off. USA Today, "Report card: Would this year’s Oscar best picture nominees meet 2024 inclusion standards?," 19 Apr. 2021 Because medical inequity is just an extra-credit topic of Perillos'; her real task is, of course, to torture information about the Sikorsky Archive out of Dembe for Townsend, and by proxy, Liz. Jodi Walker, EW.com, "The Blacklist recap: The brazen bull," 13 Mar. 2021 Before any trial, Thomas was hunted and killed by a posse formed by Sheriff Willis McCall, who also ordered his deputies to torture the other men in the basement under the Lake County Jail. Monivette Cordeiro, orlandosentinel.com, "Attorney who defended Groveland Four honored with bust at Wells’ Built Museum," 26 Mar. 2021 Gacy would lure his victims into his home, sometimes offering to show them a magic trick, before locking them in handcuffs to torture and kill them. oregonlive, "John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise documentary out now | Free live stream info, how to watch online with Peacock," 25 Mar. 2021 Over the course of the day, the criminals basically torture this family, and through fourth-wall breaks, Haneke interrogates why people would even want to watch something like this, illuminating what art can reveal about the dark side of humanity. Brian Tallerico, Vulture, "The 100 Best Movies on HBO Max," 1 Feb. 2021 No one’s purely on the side of good here, and the characters torture each other as Kemp’s obsession grows more intense and his chances to start over begin to dim. Keith Phipps, Vulture, "The 50 Greatest Western Movies of All Time," 18 Jan. 2021 Never has an incumbent gone to such unconscionable lengths to torture the truth, bend laws and use intimidation to foil the will of the people. Steve Chapman, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Republicans bowing to Trump are undermining American democracy," 11 Dec. 2020 Santana Khanikar, assistant professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, writes in her book on state violence that torture in police stations is so routine, it is often used to impress spectators. Mohit Rao, CNN, "Indian police use violence as a shortcut to justice. It's the poorest who bear the scars," 2 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'torture.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of torture

Noun

1540, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

Verb

1588, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for torture

Noun

Middle French, from Old French, from Late Latin tortura, from Latin tortus, past participle of torquēre to twist; probably akin to Old High German drāhsil turner, Greek atraktos spindle

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Time Traveler for torture

Time Traveler

The first known use of torture was in 1540

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Statistics for torture

Last Updated

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Torture.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/torture. Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for torture

torture

noun

English Language Learners Definition of torture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the act of causing severe physical pain as a form of punishment or as a way to force someone to do or say something
: something that causes mental or physical suffering : a very painful or unpleasant experience

torture

verb

English Language Learners Definition of torture (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause (someone) to experience severe physical pain especially as a form of punishment or to force that person to do or say something
: to cause (someone) to feel very worried, unhappy, etc.

torture

noun
tor·​ture | \ ˈtȯr-chər How to pronounce torture (audio) \

Kids Definition of torture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the act of causing great pain especially to punish or to obtain a confession
2 : distress of body or mind Waiting is just torture for me.

torture

verb
tortured; torturing

Kids Definition of torture (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to punish or force someone to do or say something by causing great pain
2 : to cause great suffering to

Other Words from torture

torturer noun

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Comments on torture

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